What influenced your decision to work in general practice?
When I was an undergraduate studying medicine we had only four weeks general practice training, two of those were spent in Birmingham and the other two weeks were spent in Taunton.
My Father was actually a GP in Ilfracombe and I always had a bit of a reaction against becoming a GP and following in his footsteps, but the more time I spent in a nice Somerset practice the more I realised that the family was the centre of everything and I just liked the way that the partners worked. It was my first time experiencing what we would now call patient centred care.
How has general practiced changed since you first became a GP?
When I joined my practice in Somerset there was actually only one other practice that had a computer and we wrote all of our notes on very small pieces of paper that we can still find in the records today!
What do you like about living and working in Somerset?
I think some of the attractions in Somerset are obvious; we have the most dramatic scenery, it’s a county of contrasts: you have the amazing levels, which surround my practice and then on the North coast of Somerset we must have some of the most beautiful walking country. We have a fantastic selection of pubs, of course we have the cricket and also Glastonbury.
What’s the best thing about working in general practice?
One of the things that we all love about general practice is the fact that we have a continuity of care, so I will now be looking after people who I looked after 30 years ago and have looked after several generations of the same family, I think this is something that is unique to general practice. It is particularly valuable when a patient is worried about a condition.
This was highlighted a few years ago when we had really severe floods in my practice area and every week I would be making a new connection between families and who related to who.
When the floods happened and patients went to live with family members I discovered a whole load of relationships that I never knew existed and that was really useful.
If you could wave a magic wand, what would you do with it?
I think we would all like to see it return to a time when we had our teams built around us in the practices.
It’s lovely to have your nurses and social support staff on the same site so you don’t necessarily have to do a formal referral; you would have what we call a corridor chat or a coffee room chat where you can get a bit of soft intelligence on people.